Rediff.com  » Business » Jet Airways cannot claim historical right on airport slots: Govt to NCLT

Jet Airways cannot claim historical right on airport slots: Govt to NCLT

By Aneesh Phadnis
March 09, 2021 13:03 IST
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The ministry and the civil aviation regulator have said the government will consider the airline's request for slots as per existing policy.

Jet Airways cannot claim historical precedence over airport slots, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) have said in an affidavit before the National Company Law Tribunal.

The ministry and the civil aviation regulator have said the government will consider the airline’s request for slots, according to existing policy.

 

However, they have opposed the successful bidder Kalrock-Jalan consortium’s plea for mandatory approvals.

“According to the slot allocation guidelines issued in May 2013, the ‘use it or lose it’ rules define the historical precedence which is only granted for a series of slots… Jet Airways has not applied for slots for the last three consecutive seasons and hence, does not qualify for claiming the benefits of historical precedence,” the ministry and DGCA said in a joint affidavit.

Jet Airways shut down in April 2019, following a cash crunch, and is under insolvency since June of that year.

The airline’s slots and traffic rights were then allocated to other airlines, enabling them to fill capacity vacuum and the launch new services.

In its earlier affidavit in December 2019, the MCA had said its slots and traffic rights were allocated to other airlines in the larger public interest and purely on a temporary basis.

However, the government’s latest affidavit — filed on Monday —  is silent on the issue.

The ministry said allocating slots to revive Jet Airways would not be an issue, in view of the upgrade of existing airports and the construction of new airports, including Jewar, Mopa, and Navi Mumbai.

“This capacity creation through new airports and expansion of capacity at existing airports will be helpful in allocating a fair number of slots to the resolution applicant (Kalrock-Jalan) by the competent authority,” it said.

Slots are not the assets of Jet Airways and no mandatory directives should be issued in respect to their allocation, the ministry and DGCA said.

“Bidders have come forward and sought to revive the airline only if slots are made available.

"While the new owner would begin operations in a graded manner, the requirement of slots may not be an issue for launching operations.

"However, the government should give certainty regarding the slots and protect them if an airline is facing insolvency,” said an aviation expert.

“The MCA is not per se opposing the revival of Jet. Instead the ministry would be satisfied if an airline is resurrected, as it positively impacts the lives of employees and also the aviation sector.

"But at the same time, any airline prior to its operationalisation should fulfil certain conditions and the same shall also be applicable to the revival of Jet ,” it said.

Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

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Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai
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